You see? Marissa Mayer was right about WFH!

Perhaps Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer had a point about working from home (WFH) after all.

Mayer drew enormous criticism last year when one of her first acts as CEO was to banning at-home working or telecommuting.

Marissa Mayer
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Marissa Mayer

People called Mayer every bad name in the book, and even accused her of selling out her fellow working mothers. More importantly, critics insisted Mayer had bought into a series of misconceptions and outright lies about telecommuters being unreliable and not hard working. And many employment experts warned that this "mistake," would leave Yahoo behind in the race for the tech world's best talent.

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But an explosive story out of Washington, DC this morning may provide Mayer with sweet vindication … or not.

Just a month after Mayer instituted the telecommuting ban at Yahoo, investigators at the U.S. Patent Office found that a large number of that department's at-home workers routinely lied about the amount of hours they put in and that oversight of the "telework" program was completely ineffective, the Washington Post reported. To make matters worse, the Patent Office now stands accused of burying and basically covering up the most damning parts of its own internal report. All this as the Patent Office's infamous backlog has only grown larger, stifling a vital aspect of America's entrepreneurial economy.

And this all came from an at-home work program that was universally praised as a model for others to follow in the public and private sector.

It's fair to say that this Patent Office farce should take at least some of the heat off of Mayer. Clearly, at-home work abuse does exist and the temptations are real for everyone who tries it.

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But before anyone decides that this budding scandal proves Mayer was completely in the right, one has to remember that there's an enormous difference between the working culture for federal workers in Washington, DC and tech workers in Silicon Valley.

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Let's face it, jobs with the federal government isn't exactly famous for attracting the kind of workaholic, 80-hour-a-week types. A recent study by the Heritage Foundation showed that federal workers put in about three hours a week less than the average private sector worker. And when you add in all the vacation time, sick time and other perks, federal employees work a month less per year than non-public employees.

Throw in the guaranteed pension and rock-solid job security you get in a federal job, and you can see why that line of work attracts the exact opposite of the kind of risk-taking, uber-independent worker you find at many cutting edge tech sector companies.

When you think about the much lower total number of work hours most federal workers already put in for a given year, one could understand why offering those same workers even more "honor system" work time flexibility should have raised a few red flags. In other words, allowing federal workers to work at home is like putting Bart Simpson in an independent study program. I predict we'll learn of similar abuses in other federal teleworking arrangements in the months to come.

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I wouldn't expect the same amount of abuse in Silicon Valley, or anywhere else in the private sector. The most important reason for that is the private sector's profit imperatives are more likely to keep workers and managers on their toes about using all their time productively and accounting for their time honestly. Political bureaucrats may be able to sweep concerns about backlogs under the rug, but shareholders aren't that patient.

Throw in the rugged individuality and productive independent work habits of many tech workers, and you have a strong case to make about how what happened at the Patent Office is simply a "DC thing." And remember that Silicon Valley is currently in the midst of a mad hiring competition that's led to some serious perk inflation. We've gone way beyond the free snacks in the Google cafeteria. We're talking fancy cars as signing bonuses, daily massages, and wine tastings. It's easy to argue that Mayer's ban on at-home work has put Yahoo behind the curve.

But more importantly, this story should also allow the American public to again learn the important lesson about the rarified world of Washington employment. Yes, the base salaries aren't as high as the private sector. But when you consider the job security, work hours, pensions, benefits and much lower standards and accountability… well, you get the point.

Commentary by Jake Novak, supervising producer of "Street Signs." Follow him on Twitter @jakejakeny.